By Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix)
My mother, Jeanne Passalacqua, passed away last Thursday, April 23, in Bronxville, N.Y from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 88.
My mother had two great passions in life: entertainment and education. She became totally devoted to movies during her Lower East Side Depression childhood. During World War II, she worked as a secretary at Warner Brother’s
An indefatigable student of all things cinema, she had instant recall of every actor, writer and director credit of every movie ever made, long before there was an imdb.com.
Times Square office in New York. Many stars visited the office, but she always told the story of the day the great English star Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver) came in. My mother said that Garson was exquisite, the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, but always added, ”I really never liked her as an actress.”
Later on my mother became a contributor to film magazines and many movie books, such as James Robert Parrish’s The Paramount Pretties and The MGM Stock Company, The Golden Years. An indefatigable student of all things cinema, she became a self-taught foreign film expert and co-authored two books, Film Actors of Western Europe and Film Directors of Western Europe. All her life she had instant recall of every actor, writer and director credit of every movie ever made, long before there was an imdb.com.
My mother, who was Jewish, married my father Cosmo, a transportation executive for the US Army, in 1949. He came from a big Italian family. In those days, religious inter-marriage was considered scandalous. In the 50s when wives were looked upon favorably by society only if they didn’t work, my always independent-minded mother raised me, her only child, and worked full-time as a librarian. She attended Baruch College for 25 years at night, finally earning her degree at age 50.
The last time she went out in public after she became ill with Alzheimer’s was to attend my New York University graduation ceremony at Radio City Music Hall three years ago. I received my master’s degree in education at exactly the same age she had received her bachelor’s in business administration.
She was smart and tart and funny, and very, very observant of the world around her. When she became ill, she was cared for by her devoted husband of 59 years, my father. She lived in a nursing home for a year, and passed away only four days after the first anniversary of Dad’s death.
They are survived by myself and my husband, Ed Hayman. All that I am, I owe to my mother and father.